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United States 16, Us 13, Madam 3, Greece 3, America 3, Conrad 3, Europe 3, Zandi 2, U.s. 2, Bush 2, Spain 2, Britain 2, Subsection 2, Portugal 2, Obama 2, United Kingdom 2, Judd Gregg 1, Domenici 1, Erskine Bowles 1, Alan Simpson 1,
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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    May 17, 2012
    2:00 - 6:00am EDT  

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18-year-old, who is adept and wants to make his or her mark by intercepting. so you cannot immediately put it into a cubbyhole of national security or this particular crime. consequently, the counterparts and the distributing network, gives us the ability to identify that intrusion. ..
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the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: madam president, this is a consequential discussion today, because it really is a question of the future economic policy of the united states. that's what we're talking about here today.
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i just heard the republican leader say there is no budget. i really -- i don't know how to say this, but sometimes i wonder if colleagues pay attention to what they're voting on here. last year in august, we didn't pass a budget resolution. instead, we passed a budget law. now, anybody that's had tenth grade civics knows a law is stronger than any resolution. a resolution is purely a congressional document. it never goes to the president for his signature. a law has to pass both bodies and be signed by the president. last year, instead of a budget resolution, we did a budget law called the budget control act. the budget control act set the
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budget for the next two years, for this year and next. more than that, it set ten years of spending caps, saving $900 billion. madam president, in addition, the budget control act gave a special committee the authority to reform the tax system and the entitlement system of the country, and it said if you come to an agreement, special committee, your action cannot be filibustered. you have to go right to the floor for a vote. and if you don't agree, there will be an additional $1.2 trillion of spending cuts put in place. now, madam president, the special committee didn't agree, and so that additional $1.2 trillion of spending cuts is now the law. in addition to the $900 billion of spending cuts. that's a total spending cut package of more than $2 trillion. that is the biggest spending cut
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package in the history of the united states. and for our colleagues to say, well, there are no spending limits in place, well, what is the budget control act then? it's a law passed overwhelmingly in the senate, passed in the house, signed by the president of the united states. madam president, why are they engaged in this diversion? well, i think i know why. because the last time our colleagues on the other side were in control, when they had it all, the house, the senate, the white house from 2001-2006, they had both houses of congress. until 2008, they had the white house. so, of course, nothing could be changed in terms of the policies they put in place until we had a new president. and what happened? what happened when they had total control?
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their policies were in place. madam president, republican policies led the united states to the brink of financial collapse. that's what happened. and do you know what they want to do now? they want to go back to those failed policies and do it all over again. madam president, we can't let them do that. that would be a disaster for this country. it would be a disaster for the world's economy. madam president, i don't want -- i don't know what could be more clear than when their policies were in place, they brought this nation to the brink of financial collapse. i remember those days. i remember being called to a special meeting in this building with the leaders of the house and the senate and the head of the treasury department under
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president bush, and the chairman of the federal reserve, who told us if they didn't take certain actions the next day, this would be a financial collapse in the united states within days. madam president, i was in the room when the rescue for the major financial institutions in this country was designed, and we were told late on a saturday night if we didn't reach agreement by the next day, the asian markets would open sunday night and they would collapse and our markets would open the next monday and they would collapse. barack obama was not the president. george w. bush was the president. the republican policies, economic policies had been put in place in 2001, in 2002 and 2003, and those policies were still in place when we came
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close to financial collapse. we don't forget. madam president, let's go back to what happened with the private sector jobs picture. at the end of the bush administration, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. now we're gaining 130,000 in the last month. the months before that, immediately preceding, we were gaining about 200,000 jobs a month. we have had a gain now that the economy has started to turn around under this president of four million jobs created in the private sector. there it is. the red line is the results of the last time the republicans controlled the policy here. job losses every month. and finally, under this president, things have begun to
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turn around. instead of losing jobs, we're gaining jobs. and the same is true on economic growth. an economic growth record is very clear. in the last quarter of the bush administration, the economy was shrinking at a rate of almost 9%. you can see it there. that long red bar. the economy in the last quarter of the bush administration shrinking at a rate of almost 9%. but that, too, has turned around under this new president, and we're now averaging economic growth of about 3%. a dramatic improvement. but our republican friends aren't satisfied. they want to take us back. they want to take us back to those failed policies that had the economy shrinking at a rate of 9%, had us losing 800,000 jobs a month. now, madam president, we're not
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going to support that. we're going to oppose that. one thing the republican leader got right is we're going to be voting against going back to those failed policies that put this economy in the ditch, that put us on the brink of financial collapse. he is absolutely right. we're going to oppose that. and our policies have begun to turn things in the right direction. here are the positive signs for the u.s. economy. 26 consecutive months of private sector job growth. 11 consecutive quarters of real g.d.p. growth. unemployment rate down. manufacturing has expanded for 33 consecutive months. consumer confidence is showing signs of improvement. in fact, the last consumer confidence reading is at a four-year high. u.s. auto manufacturers that were on the brink of bankruptcy
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under the bush administration policies, the republican policies, are now returning to frostability. and state revenues are showing signs of improvement. madam president, one way we can reality test is how is our economy doing compared to our major competitors? how are we doing to the europeans? how are we doing compared to japan? how are we doing compared to the united kingdom? on every one of those tests, the united states comes out on top. our economy is performing better than the european zone. all the european countries combined. we are doing better than japan. we are doing better than the united kingdom. and this chart shows the story. our economic growth is the best
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compared to our major competitors. madam president, if there is any doubt that republican policies had us on the brink of financial collapse, we can just look to the study that was done by alan blinder, former chairman of the federal reserve, and mark zandi who advised the mccain campaign on economic policy. the two of them did an analysis of the federal actions taken to deal with the fiscal crisis and the financial crisis, and here's what they concluded. "we find that its effects on real g.d.p., jobs and inflation are huge and probably averted what could have been called great depression 2.0." so when our friends attack the president and say he didn't lead , really? he averted a depression. he averted a depression.
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he prevented a financial collapse because that's exactly where we were headed when the republicans were in control. zandi and blinder went on to say -- "when all is said and done, the financial and fiscal policies will have cost taxpayers a substantial sum, but not nearly as much as most had feared and not nearly as much as if policymakers had not acted at all. if the comprehensive policy responses saved the economy from another depression, as we estimate, they were well worth their cost." madam president, that's exactly right. but what do our colleagues on the other side want to do? they want to take us to extreme austerity. they want to slam on the brakes, even while this economy is in a fragile recovery. madam president, we don't have to wonder what would happen if
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we adopted the policies that they are presenting here on the floor of the senate today. we don't have to imagine. we can just look across to europe because they are pursuing the policies that our colleagues on the other side advocate here today. and what's happening? we have got a -- kind of an experiment going on, because what our republican friends are pushing for is being done in europe, and what are they experiencing? here is a col -- here a column from the former german chancellor gerhard schroeder: austerity is strangling europe. the direction of european financial policy must change away from pure austerity toward growth. greece, ireland, portugal, italy, spain have made substantial progress in stabilizing their finances but the economic and political situation in these countries shows that austerity alone is
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not the way to resolve the crisis. madam president, do we have a problem with that? absolutely. do we need to deal with it? absolutely. i was part of the bowles-simpson commission, i was part of the gang of six. i spent hundreds of hours negotiating with colleagues on both sides to get a result. but the answer is not extreme austerity right now. almost every economic analyst says if you do that, you'll slam this country right back into recession. and again, we don't have to look very far to find out if that's true. because great britain has tried that approach. and what have they experienced? well, here's from the "wall street journal" on april 26: "u.k. slips back into recession." that is exactly the formula that is being presented by our colleagues on the other side of
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the aisle today. let's slam on the brakes. we're going to put this thing right back in recession. hey, they had their chance. they ran the economic policy of this country for eight years under the bush administration, and sure enough, they had this country on the brink of financial collapse. now they want to return to those same failed policies. madam president, what a mistake that would be. now, you've heard the republican leader say here there's no budget. we have no budget. as i indicated in the beginning of my remarks, we do have a budget law, was passed last year. it's called the budget control act. we could put that slide up. let me read from the budget control act, because maybe my colleagues missed it when they were voting on it. here's what it says in two
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places. "the allocations, aggregates and levels -- referring to spending levels -- set in the subsection shall apply in the senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2012." is that confusing? it says "in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2012." the identical language is repeated for 2013. "the allocations, aggregates and levels set in the subsection shall apply in the senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2013." that's about as clear as it can be. and i might add the budget
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control act, as i indicated earlier, stronger than any resolution because a resolution is purely a congressional document. it never goes to the president for his signature. so the budget control act that set the budget for 2012 and 2013 has the force of law, unlike a budget resolution that is not signed by the president. the budget control act also set spending limits not just for two years, but for ten years. it capped spending for ten years, saving $988 -- $900 billion. it included a deeming resolution that allowed budget points of order to be enforced for the appropriations bills that come in 2012 and 2013. and the budget control act did something else. it created a super committee, a
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reconciliation-like procedure to address entitlement reform and tax reform backed up by a $1.2 trillion so-called sequester. a sequester is just a fancy word for more spending cuts. the budget control act that is the law said if the special committee didn't reform the tax system, didn't reform the entitlement system, that there would be another $1.2 trillion of spending cuts imposed on top of the $900 billion. now we all know the special committee didn't reach an agreement. and so, that additional $1.2 trillion of spending cuts is in place. madam president, that's a total of $2 trillion of spending cuts. that's the biggest spending cut package in the history of the united states.
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for our friends on the other side to say there are no spending limits in place here, it's just wrong. it's just wrong. madam president, we do have a problem. we've got a big problem. and this chart that talks about the spending and revenue of the country over the last 60 years tells us why we've got a problem. the red line shows the spending of the united states over that period. the green line shows the revenues. and you see a big gap between the spending and the revenue. that's why we have deficits. our friends on the other side just like to refer to one part of the equation. they just like to talk about spending. but the reality is deficits are created by the gap between the revenue and the spending. and you can see on this chart that we are at or near a 60-year high on spending.
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we've come off a little bit, now off of the 60-year high. and we are at or near a 60-year low on revenue. so, madam president, we've got to work both sides of the equation. again, we are at or near a 60-year high on spending. we are at or near a 60-year low on revenue. so what is to be done about it? the public says we ought to have a balanced plan. they say the best way to reduce the federal budget deficit is a combination of additional revenue and spending cuts, 62% say that's what we ought to do. 8% say just increase taxes. 17% say just cut programs. madam president, i was part of the so-called bowles-simpson commission, and that commission, there were 18 of us, 11 of the 18 supported the conclusions
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that called for that kind of approach. additional revenue but also additional spending cuts. and, madam president, that's what the american people say we ought to do. but that's not what our friends on the other side are proposing here. they propose actually additional tax cuts. dig a hole deeper before you start filling it in. and then they say, well, in addition to that, we will have really draconian spending cuts because you're going to have more tax cuts that primarily go to the wealthiest among us. and you're trying to reduce the deficit. that means you've got to have even more spending cuts. just say that our republican friends, the budgets they're going to be offering here today, they have something in common. every one of them ends medicare
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as we know it. every republican budget offered today ends medicare as we know it. madam president, on social security, one of the republican budgets being offered here today cuts social sec 39%. that's their answer. if you're going to have more tax cuts for the wealthiest among us who already, many of them aren't paying their fair share of taxes, if you're going to give them additional tax cuts, trillions of dollars in some cases in these budgets they are presenting today, then how are you going to make it up? their answer is end medicare as we know it. that's in every one of their budgets. one of them has gone so far as to say, well, let's cut social security benefits 39%. madam president, we'll be voting on that later today, and we'll see who stands behind that
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proposal. every republican budget cuts taxes for millionaires by at least $150,000 a year. are you listening? every republican budget being offered here today cuts taxes for millionaires by at least $150,000 a year on average. madam president, every republican budget being offered here today protects offshore tax havens. what are offshore tax havens? let's go to that next slide that shows my favorite picture of a building down in the cayman islands. ug land house. little five-story building in the cayman islands, lovely building. that building claims to be the home of 18,857 companies.
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they all say they're doing business out of that little building down in the cayman islands. 18,857 companies. now, they're not doing business out of that building. they're doing monkey business out of that building. the monkey business they're doing is to avoid the taxes that they owe in the united states. madam president, every republican budget protects those offshore tax havens. madam president, the house republican budget plan, the first one that we will be voting on today is totally unbalanced. no revenue. in fact, it's a lot more tax cuts. $1 trillion of additional tax cuts for the wealthiest in our country. but they do cut some things other than taxes. they cut health care almost $3
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trillion. they shift medicare to a voucher system ending medicare as we know it. they block grant medicaid, going right after the most vulnerable in our society: children, disabled, those that have the least. they cut the safety net for seniors, children, the disabled, increasing the number of uninsured by more than 30 million. and they have large cuts to education, energy, and infrastructure. madam president, cutting education doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. you talk about eating your seed corn, that's it. after our house republican colleagues put out their budget, the catholic bishops said this. the catholic bishops, as this headline saeuz in "the washington post," said the house
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republican budget authored by mr. ryan fails the moral test. madam president, certainly it does. let's go to the next slide. this plan cuts discretionary spending $1 trillion beyond what the budget control act did. madam president, if you look at priorities, it kind of leaps out at you. health care cut by almost $3 trillion, from $12.7 trillion to $9.9 trillion. and when you go to the question of education, where the united states is already lagging -- in fact, the united states ranks 25th out of 34 oecd countries in math. we're 25th in math. let's go to the next. in science, we're 17th out of
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34. so we're 25th out of 34 in math. we're 17th out of 34 in science. and our republican colleagues, the budget from house republicans say cut education by 25%. cut it from $77 billion to $58 billion. that is a 25% cut in education under the house republican plan. madam president, gasoline, we've all seen gasoline prices rising. now we're thankful that they have been easing back in recent days. but nonetheless, on may 14, average $3.75 a gallon. and what is the republican answer to rising gasoline prices? well, let's cut those energy programs that are designed to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. let's cut them 60%. that's what the house republican plan does. it cuts programs to reduce our
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dependence on foreign energy from $4.7 billion a year to $2 billion. 60% cut in programs to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. and, madam president, if anybody's driven on the highways of america, we all know we've got work to do there. if we look at infrastructure spending in our country versus our major competitors, we can see china is spending 9% of their g.d.p. on infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, rail. europe 5%. the united states, 2.4%. madam president, we have to do better than that. so what's the republican answer? on transportation funding, they cut it 34%. they cut it 34%. madam president, i think we
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understand the direction that our republican colleagues want to take this country, and it's full speed in reverse. back to the failed policies which put this country on the brink of financial collapse the last time they were in charge. madam president, we'll hear our colleagues on the republican side say you can't raise any revenue. you can't raise any revenue even though revenue is at or near a 60-year low right now. if we look historically at what it's taken to balance the budget, the last five times we balanced the budget, revenue was at 19.5% to 20.6% of g.d.p. under the republican plan, it never gets above 18.7%. so i don't think they are very serious about balancing the budget. former senate budget committee chairman judd gregg said this
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about the need for more revenue -- "we know revenues are going to have to go up. if you're going to maintain a stable economy and a productive economy, because of the simple fact that you're going to have to have this huge generation that has to be paid for." that's the baby boom generation. former senate budget committee chairman domenici, another republican, also said we need more revenue. he said -- "a complete deficit reduction plan, one that can gain support from democrats and republicans, will need to combine comprehensive spending cuts with structural entitlement reform and new revenues. additional revenues will be needed if we're serious about controlling our debt." madam president, one of the issues that has become more and more clear in recent months is that income disparity is widening in america. this shows since 1979 what's happened to the top 1% in terms of their income and what's
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happened to the middle quintile and the lowest quintile. everybody else has been pretty much stagnant since 1979. the top 1% has gone up like a rocket. madam president, i got nothing to be critical about in terms of people doing well. we want everyone to succeed but not just part of the population. madam president, the hard reality is since 1992 -- since 1995, the effective tax rate for the wealthiest 400 taxpayers in this country has been cut from about 30% to 18%. madam president, that's not fair. the republican plan is to give them more tax cuts, give them more tax cuts. in fact, the house republican plan on revenue provides an
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additional trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, gives millionaires an average tax cut of more than $150,000 a year. it does not contribute one dime of revenue to deficit reduction. madam president, i want to end where i began. the last time our colleagues on the other side were in charge, when they controlled everything here from 2001-2006 and the white house until 2008, their policies, republican policies, led the united states to the brink of financial collapse. and now, the proposals they are making here today are to take us right back, right back to those failed policies. madam president, we shouldn't let them do that. that would be a mistake for our country. it would be a mistake for the world. i thank the chair and yield the
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floor. mr. sessions: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: the fundamental question we as a nation have to ask is what are we going to do now? what are we going to do for the future? what is our plan for the future? and the problem we have in this senate is that the democratic majority refuses steadfastly, adamantly, to produce and lay out their vision for the future while investing a considerable amount of time and effort in attacking anybody who does. they even vote down their own president's budget, as bad as it is, the most irresponsible budget ever submitted here, in my opinion. so this is a really odd situation that we're in, and i would just say that our country has never been in more danger
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financially. erskine bowles and alan simpson, senator conrad served on their committee, came before the budget committee of which i am the ranking member, and told us this nation, both of them, a signed statement from them, this nation has never faced a more predictable financial crisis. in other words, the course we are on today is unsustainable. they told us that. they told us it could happen as soon as within two years, and that was over a year ago that they made that testimony. we are in the danger zone financially, and i know a lot of people would like to say it's not so, but it is so. look at this chart. this chart shows the total debt of the euro zone, including the u.k., britain and the united states. our debt exceeds that of the euro zone. we had a larger debt than they do, and president bush, who my
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good friend, senator conrad, who is such a fine person, noted, presided over a period in which our debt increased and it did increase. the largest debt president bush ever had was $480 billion in one year, which was too large. president obama has never had a budget that's less than $1,200,000,000,000 des. never had a deficit. next year will be over 1,000 billion dollars. our $15.5 trillion for the united states is greater than the eurozone and the eurozone has a larger population than we do. and let's look at this chart that just drives that number home again in case anybody is worried about it. i am. it shows the average debt per
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person, per capita in the countries that we have been reading about that are in financial trouble, and it hits them sometimes surprisingly and you never know quite how it's going to hit. but look at this. the debt in spain, which is an iraqi financial cotion as we know is $18,000 per person, portugal $19,000, france $33,000. greece, $38,000. greece's debt per person, $38,000. whereas the united states is $44,000. yes, we have a little larger economy, but this is the danger zone. people were saying we could have a financial problem of very few people in 2007 as a result of the bubble in housing. they warned that might happen. oh, no, not this time. it's different. we got it under control and we had a financial crisis that we
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haven't recovered from yet. so i would say, madam president, we do need to take action and we do not have a budget. we do not have a budget. if we had a budget, why did president clinton -- obama comply with the united states code and submit a budget over here this year? if we have a budget, why did the house pass a budget? if we had a budget, why did four different democratic congressmen and groups of congressmen submit budgets in the house? so if we had a budget, why did senator conrad seek to have a budget markup in the committee? he basically said well, we may not bring it up on the floor but the law says we have a budget. i'm going to bring one up in committee, and the day before the committee met, the democrats met in conference and told him not to do it.
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so we were expecting to have an twawl markup of a budget -- an actual markup of the budget presented by the democratic leadership and we didn't get it. why? senator reid said it would be foolish to have a budget, foolish. what did he mean by that? well, with the democratic leader attacking republicans this morning, why would he say it is foolish for us to produce a budget? well, he said that because he meant it would be foolish politically. it would be not smart politically because the democratic leadership in the senate would have to lay out a vision for the future, and the vision they wanted to sell or they could agree on was one that the american people wouldn't like. it wouldn't be smart. they would reject it. we would add the numbers up, see how much taxes they actually want to increase, how much debt they are going to increase, how much spending is going to increase. and those are the kind of things that are disappointing. and so that's not leadership.
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it's an utter failure of leadership, whereas the republican house, they produced a budget that changes the debt course of america, puts us on a sound financial path. you can agree with it or disagree with it. you will have other budgets offered today from the republican side that will have substantial support, that would change the debt course we are on, balance the budget in a certain number of years, put us on a sound financial path. and i expect every one of those budgets to be opposed by every member on the other side of the aisle, and it appears again that they will unanimously vote down president obama's budget and not offer one of their own directly contrary to the law. and i know the majority leader this morning said well, filibusters are a problem, but you can't filibuster a budget process. this budget control act is designed to ensure that a budget
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could be passed. the budget control act does not allow a filibuster. simply 50, -- 51 votes is neede to pass a budget. so why isn't it being brought forth? because they prefer to hide under the table, not stand up and be counted, not address the greatest trouble this nation
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